The Online Citizen

Spend $30 million to disburse $61 million?

February 28
15:04 2012

~by: Leong Sze Hian~

I refer to the increase in funding to family service centres of about $100 million, over the next three years (“More family service centres, extra $30m funding in coming years”, (Straits Times, Feb 9).

This works out to an annual funding of about $33.3 million.

According to ComCare's annual report for the financial year 2010 which ended on 31 March 2011, $61 million was disbursed to 20,300 needy families under various ComCare programmes.
The ComCare Endowment Fund has about $811 million, and Comcare disbursements was about $44, $48, $50, $66 and $61 million in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively, to about 21,000, 20,000, 25,000, 26,000 and 20,300 needy families, respectively.
Ratio of costs of disbursement to funding
If we include the funding to the five Community Development Councils and the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, I estimate the total annual funding to deliver the ComCare schemes to be about $30 million.
How much are we spending a year to disburse the Comcare schemes?
Whilst it is always good to increase funding to organisations who administer the assistance to  needy families under ComCare, we should also bear in mind the costs of delivery versus the assistance disbursed.
Need to review processes?
Should we review our processes to see if they are overly cumbersome, time-consuming or costly, in the disbursement of funds to people with needs?
Is spending $30 million to disburse $61 million to needy families an efficient ratio?
What are the benchmarks for other countries?



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  • oute

    Right, it is always not giving the actual amount to the needy, it has the cascading effect leaving less to the needy.
    What has Parliament had to say about this.

  • Gt

    The more impt things for the govt is to ensure that no one cheats the govt; never mind the fact that it costs them $10 to prevent a $1 cheat.  Hence the stringent check. 

  • Libran

    Increasingly we've to question the effectiveness and productivity of the world's smartest govt. There are other more important questions, e.g. why are there so many people needing assistance? Did our smart govt. prepare the citizens to take on jobs of the 21st century? Did the smart govt. create enough jobs for true blue Singaporeans? What happened?

  • Alfretz

    'Spend $30 million to disburse $61 million?' If it is true, it just does not make sense! It is illogical indeed!

  • Angelina

    When the Govt wants money from you, what do they do?  Do they need to put up campaigns, ask volunteers to go & collect money from you, ask you to report, phone, sign a form bla bla bla?  NO, they send a letter directly to your address to let you know, period. 
    How big is Sg?  How many tens of million people live in Sg?  What is so difficult?  Just send a letter to every household or adult and tell them that the scheme is available.  Sg is so crowded, nobody lives a secluded life.  If 90% of the population are informed, the illiterate &/or elderly will be taken care of.

  • Angelina

    Just send the damn letter to every household to inform them that help is available, under what criteria and how to seek help if you qualify. Cost is postage multiply the number of households plus admin to do the letter & send them out but it would cost much much less than the bloomin campaigns. 
    Another way is to send the letter home with every child in school if you want to save some postage money.  What a bloody waste of a Minister if he is spending so much time & money on communication alone.

  • iAMahMENG

    whoa! spent 50% to make 100%? which IDIOT in the government depart start this rubbish?tharman are you awake?

  • Eugene

    Wow! Is it that the papigs are so dumb that they don't realise 30 mil dollars being withered away by the agencies? Or they know it and keep silent because these receipients are papies' bootlickers.
    All the silence will cause the papigs dearly in the coming erections.

  • Small problem BiiiiG solution

    Other big sized countries have very remote villages and elderly people living alone by themselves and yet they still do not need to do this sort of campaigns to publicise such thing.  What is this Minister thinking? Trying to show off that he and the Govt is doing something?

  • Angyongguan

    Say in, say out, what the use Leong s h?

  • Ray

    To the author Leong Sze Hian,
    Rather than asking plenty of questions which anyone could ask, perhaps you could provide more data and substances in your articles. You may start by providing data for Singapore to benchmark again other countries, and provide analysis where we overspent, or where we should spent more. Perhaps your articles will then be more value added.
    I am not in the social welfare line but I have friends who worked in the Family Service Centre. They are shorthanded and at times work long hours, dealing with broken families, juveniles or couples with marital/internal problems. Working in an environment which deals with emotional issues can take their tolls on their morale, and at times my friends are affected personally by the cases he has to handle. Thus more staff are generally needed to reduce their workload.
    Now let me deal with your article, which is very mediocre and full of sweeping statement. Yes no doubt only $61 million dollars were disbursed to the poor. This is the financial aspect of social services.
    However let me add that there are non-financial services which the FSC provides for citizens, which you have conveniently did not address.
    For example, my nephew who has disciplinary problem was sent to a FSC and he has to undergo counselling and other form of programs. The FSC did not give him or his family any cash, but those counselling sessions had prevented him from committing crimes and restored family relationship. This is not tangible and could not be measured by cash alone.
    The $31 million is not given for the FSCs just to provide financial assistance. The money is also used to provide other non financial assistance too which you have conveniently fail to highlight.
    I am not sure what is your intention. But the least you should do writing an article in the public sphere is to be responsible. Your article is misleading as you are linking $61 million (output) to the $31 million (input).  To the layman, this is inefficient use of resources. But you have fail to highlight the non-financial assistance provided by the FSCs.
    The fact is, the Family Service Centres provide other non-tangible or monetary helps, which of course would not be included in the $31 million cash handed out. However these services requires manpower and financial resources. Why was the fact that FSCs provided non-monetary assistance to the commnunity ommitted in your article? As a journalist you should have the decency to check the kind of services provided, which you have conveniently hide.
    Pls see to see some examples of services provided by the FSC.
    In summary the (input) $31 million  = (output) $61 million given out in cash + other non-tangible output and services.
    While I disagree with the MIW policies, I think your article is misleading, doing injustice to those in the FSCs who work hard to help the community.

  • Advtg agency had benefited from the needy

    I really don't think benchmark is needed for such matter.  It is plain unacceptable that money is spent on campaigning that help is available nevermind how many $mils.
    You stated:
    "(input) $31 million = (output) $61 million given out in cash + other non-tangible output and services".
    This is mathematically not possible. $31mil can never be equal to $61mil let alone other non-tangible o/p. No idea what you are trying to say.
    I like to say that it is commendable what your friends are doing. The Govt is darn rich, your friends should feeback that more manpower is needed and ask them to spend to hire more staff.  All the more, you should support Mr Leong for pointing out that money had been spent on communication or campaigning rather than on the help itself.

  • son of s

    We have become a Nation of beggars. There are so many charities that one becomes afraid to step out on Saturdays when the beggars with tin cans come out in full force.These beggars are sadly school children who are coaxed to waste their time on something which in previous times were fully the province and responsibility of the Government. But today this Government  eschews giving out welfare money. Yet it has a full barrel of reasons why the officeholders must get paid in the millions and yet money is not enough. The most farcical is the Prsident's Charity show. This gentleman presides over a show to get money from the long suffering public to give to the poor while he himself is so surprised why and how such largess has come his way and he secretly snears at the naivety of the citizenry.

  • bobby

    One of the most inefficient "charitable' organisation in Singapore…spend 30million to disburse 31million…themost efficient is a Christian Organisation …Salvation Army….they spend  I think only 5cents for every 100cents disbursed.
    The whole Comcare looks like an Organisation provididng employment for the NON NEEDY….very likely the politically correct type of people…

  • Tan Choon Hong

    When I was fresh out of school, I met a classmate who showed me his name card with the designation “Social Worker”. I was full of admiration and thought he served the needy like those bare-foot doctors in ulu places, getting a pittance maybe for food and transport. Some years later, I discovered that social workers can come from organisations that collect donations and spend up to 40% running the show, including paying themselves handsomely. Their rationale is that if they are not there, not one cent will flow to the poor. In other words, charity is a business and has overheads. I sometimes wonder whether our social welfare agencies are also spending too much to administer the aid they are supposed to dispense.

  • Clear eyed

    I suspect a large part of the $30 million goes towards paying a bloated bureaucracy to take care of the red tape in place. 

  • Ray

    @ Advtg agency had benefited from the needy,
    I hope you have read the ST article which Leong try to criticise. The newspaper article stated $31 million is spent for more manpower and resources so that the FSCs could provide more services. 10 more FSC are set up to cater to more needs. If we want to expand community services, logically we need more resources.
     What Leong (the writer) is doing through the headline and his article is to mislead us the readers into thinking that FSC job is only to disburse money, which is false. He did not address the non-financial services provided by the FSCs. He conveniently did not state that the ST article clearly states 10 new FSCs are set up to cater to more needs.
    Leong's approach in shaping the headline and article is a typical way how media (newspaper and journalists) try to frame our minds by having a Catchy Headlines, and hiding information where it does not agree with his stand. See the headlines and how he wrote the article. See how he tried to frame our minds into linking $31 million spent on community works to the $61 million given out to the needy, while ignoring other services provided by the FSCs.
    I would suggest you and other readers google "FSC Singapore" and check out the services provided by the FSC.
    Since Leong like to ask questions, I am incline to ask him these questions which he has fail to address:
    a) Does the FSC only provide financial services to the community?
    b) What other non-financial services are provided by the FSC?
    c) If we provide more non-financial services like counselling, managing juveniles, helping families with problems, do these services incur costs?
    d) If these non financial services incur cost, will it be logical then that if we were to expand such non-financial services to the community, we need to have bigger budget.
    e) Can Leong prove that FSC's job is only to disburse money as he try to claim in his article?

  • nerdybeng

    I thought they were saying that after pumping in 30 m, the total funding is 100 m over the next 3 years? So there is an increase ‘to’ 100 m, not increase ‘of’.
    How did you arrive at the delivery cost of 30m?
    Do the said costs include other job functions besides disbursement of funds? Do they provide other forms of aid besides monetary disbursements, like counselling?

  • abc

    The extra $30M is mainly for salaries of staff in FSCs and CDCs.
    Govt is actually quite generous with salaries. Not so generous with welfare.
    You can argue that certain staff in FSCs have heavy workload, mental stress when dealing with broken families etc. But compare their salary to similar positions in private sector. They are getting much more than those working in VWOs and other private organisations.
    When people with vested interests say they are underpaid etc, they compare themselves with bankers, accountants and senior engineers. But they are comparing apples to oranges.

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  • son of s

    There is a pattern. Municipal; services as provided by Government is expensive with the office holders paid highest in the world, millions per annum. So Charity must also be expensive with the administrators paid handsomely compared with the  amount of charity they dispense. The poor in Singapore has no free lunch. Only those in charge of them gets the free lunches, dinners, glory  and power on top of it all.

  • son of s

    All these charity business in Singapore is started by one man popularly known as Mr Charity. who has since passed away. He started a booming industry where those clever enough can get money for themselves in big handfulls while dosing out peanuts to the poor and needy. Some like Durai, the Buddhist monk,  priests and other less well knowncommunity leaders become very rich, having gold taps fitted in their toilets, stables of horses and mansions overseas like the Sultan of Brunei only that he rules over all his subjects, while our Charity Chiefs rule over the desperate and the poor of society. What will they think of next?. 

  • son of s

    The cost of charity is to be reckoned with in money mad Singapore.
    Let us go back to the old cookbook formular  where the Government takes care of the sick , old and poor and not the glamourous  and foreign.

  • We are NOT the 1%

    Spending $31 million to buy the 40% does really makes alot of sense, indeed.
    Where are the plans for this more family service centres? I am not suprise, probably 3 to be in Hgang and 15 in AGRC to begin woith.
    Wise OR NOT wise, PAP's 101 investment guide is to USE tax payers money AT ALL COSTs to maximise politcal gains – idiots wake up !!

  • social worker

    From A Social Worker Perspective,
    I am a social worker and this article is an insult to my job and those that do social work. We do not get 8 months bonus nor do we given any special priveleges or exceptionally high pay. Sometimes we work until at night to meet the residents or clients who could not meet us during their working hours. Sometimes we receive threats from angry husbands or friends of youths whom we try to provide guidance.
    Family Service Centre or FSC do not disburse $61 million to the needy. The article is trying to link Comcare funding to FSC, which are two different entities.
    What many social workers deal with are counselling for families and children who have problems. Most if not all who use our  services come from poor family, the same 99% that we are trying to help. The 1% do not use our facilities as they have the money and means to hire expensive private therapies or counselling.
    Why is the writer attacking the same instituitions and services that the 99% needs and use?
    What is the motive of this article, using deceptive method and using half truth to deceive the public? Is it to manipulate our anger and emotion towards the government?  Not many of us bother to verify the facts, and we just take this article at it's face value.
    Whoever written this article should be ashamed and come out clean.

  • Ray

    To the author of this article Leong Sze Hian and TOC:
    You have remained silent and did not explain your positions. Please answer these question
    a) Does the FSC only provide financial services to the community?
    b) What other non-financial services are provided by the FSC?
    c) If the FSC provide more non-financial services like counselling, managing juveniles, helping families with problems, do these services incur costs?
    d) If these non financial services incur cost, will it be logical then that if we were to expand such non-financial services to the community, we need to have bigger budget?
    e) Can Leong Sze Hian or TOC prove that FSC's job is only to disburse money as he try to claim in his article?
    f) In your article, you have quoted a report from the Straits Times. Why did you fail to mention and quote that the extra money is for 10 new FSCs and more social workers, which was clearly reflected in the Straits Times report?
    If you do not answer these questions, I presume you have admitted that this article is deceptive.

  • I’m a Singaporean

    How about charity organisations which spent $0.9 to disburse $0.1, for every S1 donation?
    How about spending S$25 million last year to upgrade budget terminal, and now it will be torn down?

  • Idk

    Does comcare funds trickle down to fsc or is just for cdcs and the grassroots organisations?

  • Emo is not the way to go

    As many jump on the bandwagon to gain popularity to say the poor is not receiving enough help, i would like to pose this question for you: why are people poor and should poor be categorised? If people who are poor due to their poor work attitude, should they be getting as much taxpayers’ money compared to the poor who are defenseless due to age and sickness?

    Whatever decision we make, there’s long term repercussion. Let’s deal with separate issues one at a time. The well paid government is a separate issue from giving out as much to all poor. Don’t direct your anger or unhappiness at all issues that you link to. Do we want a nation where we breed in people the mentality that it’s alright if you do not want to work if working is tough? Singapore is not blessed with natural resources to sell to fund everything.

  • Ray

    @ I'm a Singaporean,
    I am totally agreeable with you that taxpayer or donation money should be diverted to where it is needed most, not on marketing or big fat bonuses for greedy CEOs.
    I am taking Leong Sze Hian to task for linking the increase funding to FSC to the $61 million given to the needy. Many of the readers fell to his trick, thinking that social work agencies spent too much for few returns.
    Let me quote from Leong Sze Hian:" Is spending $30 million to disburse $61 million to needy families an efficient ratio?"
    What is your first impression? Is it true that our FSC spent $30 million to give out $61 to the needy? Why is Leong so silent about other kind of services provided by FSCs. Why did Leong link the news of the increase funding to the FSC with Comcare spending to the needy? They are two different agencies, but a journalistic trick is to link A+B to give a false impression to the reader.
    Such articles that demean our ordinary social workers who help the 99% Singaporeans (not the elite) with bastardised facts mixing with half truth or hiding inconvenience truth is despicable. That is my point.

  • lim

    All IPCs and Charities have a 80% spending rule i.e. 80% of all charitable receipts have to be used for charity. If anyone has any info that any charity is not meeting this, they can contact IRAS (Commissioner of Charities). They were appointed after NKF specifically for this purpose.

  • iAMahMENG

    Ray1 March 2012

    @ I'm a Singaporean,

    I am taking Leong Sze Hian to task for linking the increase funding to FSC to the $61 million given to the needy. Many of the readers fell to his trick, thinking that social work agencies spent too much for few returns.
    is that so? hav YOU been to the social worker in a hospital seekin partial/medicsaves savin on YOUR medicines?
    do you know if you earned an average of $ are over qualified….


  • Ray

    @ iAMahMENG,
    Thanks for the info but let's not divert the attention of the readers from the main point here which is deceptive journalism by certain person linking funding of FSC to monetary benefits given to the needy, and the impression given in the article that FSC's main function is to disburse fund. I have directed a set of questions to Leong and TOC to clarify this article, and if Leong (the author) is as open and transparent, he should walk the talk.
    Do many of us bother to look at the ST's article and conduct check with the FSC? Some power hungry persons know many of us took TOC's article at its face value, if you can see in some of the comments above. And sometimes they take advantage of our faith and trust by riding on our emotions, using deceptions and suppressing the inconvenience truth. I have stopped looking at the MSM as they are not critical. TOC do have good critical articles, but that does not mean we should stop analysing and criticising where necessary.
    Citizen journalism like the TOC has its own challenges, with none of the constraints imposed by authority. For some authors, Power means everything, even if it involves deceptive articles and demeaning our social workers, who are mostly ordinary Singaporeans earning ordinary wages. Truth means little. Ethical standards are for the weak and compromised. Influence through social media is gained, not by persuasion, but by deception and ruthlessness.
    Do you want to end up as mindless followers of TOC or Leong Sze Hian? To put it in a better perspective, do you or any reader want to be mindless followers of the MIW? I guess the answer is no

  • eaglefly


  • eaglefly


  • Ray

    @ Eaglefly,
    could you provide evidence for TOC readers under what welfare program that your friends? It it logical for the government to give money and told someone not to work? Don't you think this govt who does not believe in welfarism, believe that it is better to make someone work rather than giving him money?
    I hope you could provide details for such welfare program whereby the person receiving it are told not to work.  Evidence please.

  • We R the almost 99.9%

    I read with disbelief and amazement comments from people (who I believe from my simple common sense albeit proven not common) who were asking for proof this proof that, are unique Singaporeans.
    Do I need to prove to you when I say the sun will surely rise tomorrow ? Goodness me, for fcck sake. Do I need to prove when i say Kuan Yew will not die IF the sun rises tomorrow?
    Using common sense, and basing on daily living experiences in Sgp since day 1, since when statistics and information from the PAP govt is always fully published and available 100% (excluding so called truly P and C which again is deceptive and subjective)..Info is not readily available anytime when one needs it – even MPs need to wait in Parliament, then can be given 'official' info on how many migrated, how many deferred NS for instances. Leong is intelliegent enough, which we should highly appreciate and thank for when he can 'see through 'statisitical deceptions or half truths' or public info dissemination concealment, which DOE NOT mean Leong is lying, simple to understand cocks?
    Those who always keep asking for proof this proof that are virtually locked and living in an Utopian part of Singapore, probably sited in IMH compunds.
    Lets make more constructive comments instead of verbal diaarhoea or outsmarting another with verbal gymnastics.
    I have average IQ from my parents and I can thoroughly understand what Leong has always written. If I am in doubt, I DO NOT proof as I can know why.

  • alex xia

    I though all along there was a published regulation that a charity cannot spend more than 30% of what it collects. Obvioulsy if you compared against what they disburse in any one years it could be less than 30% of more if they dig into their reserved fund. However Singapore chartieis are notorious for hoarding and not disbursing enough to the intended beneficiaries. That is why people giving to charity must inquire into the charity's disbursemenr rate…do they given out 100% of whay they collecte din the current year, in the  past 2 to 5 years. In fact it should be made mandatory for chariteis to make such decarations when soliciting funds, Many who have big hoards of money and low disbursement rate do not deserve mrre funding no matter how popular they are. There certainly are charities that need money and are deserving.